LOCAL lockdowns will only be feasible if those forced out of work and into self-isolation receive more than the statutory sick pay, an MP has claimed.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts called for a new support scheme for those forced out of work when local outbreaks of Covid-19 occur.

The Welsh Government has not ruled out the possibility of a local lockdown on Anglesey if it’s proven that the virus has spread into the wider community, which would see the island and possibly a wider area subject to stricter restrictions than other parts of Wales.


2 Sisters has announced that all staff at its Llangefni poultry processing plant, which have been asked to self-isolate following a Covid-19 outbreak affecting 200 people, will be paid throughout the planned two week closure.

But Ms Saville Roberts said that self-isolating employees who cannot work would only legally be eligible for £95.85 per week in Statutory Sick Pay, comparing the situation to Germany where self-isolating workers generally receive sick-pay worth 100 per cent of their salary.

This, she said, meant that people would be “forced to choose between putting food on the table and the need to self-isolate,” leading to local lockdowns being “undermined” if people are “forced to ignore the need to self-isolate” if they “simply had to work to keep their families fed and housed.”

In response the Prime Minister noted that “nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing”.

Addressing the Commons the Plaid Cymru Westminster leader said: “Covid-19 has now broken out in three Welsh food factories – with 200 cases in Llangefni, 70 in Wrexham and 34 in Merthyr Tydfil.

“A plant in Germany has also seen 1,500 workers test positive. The difference there of course is that German employees get sick pay worth 100 per cent of their salary.

“Here, workers get sick pay will on average 20 per cent of their salary, they will lose 80 per cent of their salary.

“These are low-paid workers. For any future local lockdown to succeed people need to be supported.

“Will he now commit to local furlough-like schemes for self-isolating workers.”

In response, prime minister Boris Johnson pointed to the “massive commitments” already provided to the country’s workforce such as the job retention schemes and expansion of Universal Credit, adding: “I stress that if we have to move back, and obviously we don’t want to, to local or national lockdowns then nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing.”

After the session, Ms Saville Roberts added: “The prime minister must not show the same complacency as he did at the start of this crisis.

“If he wants to move to the ‘next phase’, new schemes to support new ways of managing the disease must also be put in place.

“A scheme which means that those forced to self-isolate can keep the greater part of their salaries is not only a matter of fairness, but also one of health security in ensuring that local lockdowns are effective.”